Translocation of Lions of Asiatic Lions: Important Facts

Gujarat, known for its rich biodiversity and wildlife, is home to the Asiatic lion, one of the rarest and most endangered big cat species in the world. The Asiatic lion population in Gujarat is concentrated in the Gir Forest National Park, which is the only remaining habitat of this species. To ensure the survival and protection of the lion population, the state government is planning to move 40 Asiatic lions to the Barda Wildlife Sanctuary, which is located 100 km from the Gir Forest National Park.

What is the Aim of the Translocation Project?

The aim of this project is to safeguard the lion population from potential extinction due to diseases or environmental threats such as natural disasters or habitat loss. The translocation of the lions will also prepare the sanctuary for future natural dispersal, which is essential for the long-term survival of the species. In addition, the project will also breed herbivores in the sanctuary, which will increase the availability of prey for the lions and thus, contribute to the growth of the lion population in the area.

The state government of Gujarat has given in-principle approval to the project, which is expected to be completed in a phased manner. The first phase will involve the preparation of the Barda Wildlife Sanctuary, which will include the construction of new enclosures, fencing, and the creation of water sources. Once the sanctuary is ready, the lions will be gradually introduced to the area over a period of time.

What are the Challenges and Concerns?

Although the translocation project is a commendable effort to protect the lion population, it is not without its challenges and concerns. A 2014 report by the Wildlife Institute of India has raised concerns that the Barda sanctuary can only hold 26 lions, which is not enough for the proposed translocation of 40 lions. This raises questions about the feasibility of the project and the potential risks to the lion population in the sanctuary.

Another concern is the potential for conflict between the lions and the local communities living in and around the sanctuary. Human-lion conflict is a major issue in Gujarat, with incidents of lion attacks on humans and livestock being reported frequently. The translocation of the lions to the Barda sanctuary may exacerbate this conflict, unless effective measures are taken to mitigate the risk.



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